This morning we started the day with a forest walk, following the Lake Matheson Walk path through rainforest around Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its view upon Aoraki — Mount Cook — and Rarakiora — Mount Tasman.
Since we were lucky to have a calm morning without too many clouds, we were able to see the reflection of the two mountains in the lake.
Lake Matheson was formed when the glacier Te Moeka o Tuave retreated from its last major advance 14,000 years ago, and left a depression which later filled with water.
While the others hurried to the café at the beginning of the path to have breakfast, I took my time to take some more photos.
After finishing the walk myself I found the rest of my group at the café just finishing their breakfasts, before we all got into the bus to be taken to today’s starting point of our bike ride.
On our way towards Pleasant Flat in Mount Aspring National Park, where we would start our ride, we took two more brief stops to have a look at some of the beautiful scenery that the South Island of New Zealand has to offer.
Starting the bike ride with a downhill
Soon after our last stop we arrived at Pleasant Flat. Our bike ride started surprisingly with a nice long downhill toward Lake Wanaka, where I met up with the group and the guide again for lunch break. I suspect that Pleasant Flat got its name from someone traveling from Wanaka toward Fox and was then surprised by a pleasantly flat area after some steep climbs.
Just one climb ahead, or so we are told
During lunch our guide told us that ahead of us we would find one bigger climb, but after reaching the plateau that connected to the top of that climb we would not have to deal with more climbs for the day. Well, somehow they must have built some hills into the path since the last time our guide had been there, because sure enough we found a short plateau and a nice downhill…but we also found more climbs.
I had joined up with Solo, after lunch break, again to continue the day’s ride together. And when we hit our first surprising climb after the downhill he went ahead while I followed, thinking I want to get to the point where Solo is now, then I can take a break — of course he was still moving, so whenever I reached that point he was already a bit further up the road. But when he reached the summit, he found a tiny tiny spot of shade where he stopped, waiting for me to arrive, and to have a short break in the shade. And even though the shady spot was only tiny, it helped me to cool down a little as we had something between 34˚ and 37˚C on the road. But I needed more than just that… So I chose to sacrifice my bottle of pure water and used that as a “shower on the street,” pouring the water over my head. That was a relief.
But of course, since we already had stopped, I could as good use the chance to take a photo looking back over Lake Hawea.
This should not be the last hill we had to conquer. The remaining ones were not as steep or challenging but, with this heat going on, they were still not a walk in the park.
As we thought our destination for the day would be Hawea, we started visualizing ourselves in a nice café or pub having a nice cold soft drink, and I admit it, the idea of that coming soon kept me going, it even made me use all reserves that I did not even know about before thinking of the café the first time.
Unfortunately, when we arrived in Hawea we did not spot any café or a chance to relax on shore of the lake on our route. But at least we found a gas station where they sold some drinks. As this also was supposed to be the point where we should have met up with the guide and loaded our bikes on the trailer, we waited there a little while before our cold drinks had refreshed us enough to make the call of going on all the way down to Wanaka.
We met up with our guide a little later and she asked us if we wanted to take the rest of the day’s trip in the bus, but we had found our rhythm again so we declined and went on our bikes instead and met her again in the center of Wanaka to be taken to our accommodation for the night.